God as my strength and my stepping stone.
My first commitment was made on Sunday, 19th November, 2000. This felt too good to be true at the time. That year had not been a very good year and that night I was miserable and felt an urge to walk out of the service early. After church I walked straight outside. Many thoughts were filling my head about what I had been feeling, what had happened to me and what I was doing, but that night everything seemed to change so suddenly. Below is a copy of an email I sent to a few of my close Christian friends describing what happened and how I felt that night.
“Hey, how are you? As you know I am really good and the change came suddenly on Sunday night. And I know what it was. I already thought I had accepted God into my life and that he was controlling it, but now I realise that wasn’t exactly true. While God was in my life, I still wanted to deal with things myself and something in me wanted my friends and I to solve everything. But, tonight I figured, well it was God, he answered my prayers and I really felt it. He gave me wisdom on the spot, he told me what the real problem was, and I will tell you, the problem was not what others were doing to me, but what I was doing to myself. That may sound a little confusing but the fact is I was emotionally hurting myself, I wouldn’t allow myself to feel all the good things, and I kept hurting myself for a very long time. Tonight, this hit me and for the rest of the service it confused me and it had me puzzled. I realised that when God revealed this to me, it emptied everything else out of my head, I could only think of one thing and it repeated in my mind “I emotionally hurt myself.” I then truly got the point that with this one, God is the only one who can help me and I prayed and after the service he straight away answered my prayer and I immediately knew it because I was no longer confused. I know the truth and God revealed it all to me, I couldn’t believe it. I had no word for any emotion, for I did not know anything much at the time, but I know it all now. God spoke to me and I felt he made me a new person tonight and I am not proud nor ashamed but glad and full of joy, happiness, love and excitement. For God saved me and I am forgiven, I have felt the true glory of God. And as I walked straight outside after church, I figured out it was GOD and everything that was happening was real and it was the truth. It was great amazement, I felt empty but great, and I feel now that the emptiness could be all my sins purely taken away and it is the best feeling. I am happy, and I cannot believe it. I know now that when you admit something to yourself and when you admit it to God, it’s a great thing to do and it’s so right. I am just so happy now, I have never felt this way before and I have only one to thank for it all, GOD. Oh, yes the light at the end of the tunnel has been revealed and I am set free. I still cannot believe it but it’s real and it’s the truth. This was never me, but it is now, I am a new me. My friend said she had never heard me speak like I did, before. I spoke so strongly I guess and freely and I couldn’t believe anything was real, not the grass I knelt on or the air surrounding me or the sky above me. I felt like I had died and I did and now I am born again."
This is just one example of what it can feel like to accept and feel God. However, these feelings did not remain with me for too long. They drifted away and almost faded out. For awhile after these feelings had left, I still couldn’t sin or disobey God without feeling guilty.
I was so close to God that night but something tells me I wasn’t quite close enough. Although I had given God control of my life, I still carried on taking things into my own hands and not fully trusting God. God seemed to get further away and once again I was letting my feelings get the better of me. This lead me to feeling like I couldn’t carry on any longer, I had considered harming myself, and this lead me to feeling suicidal. At the time, no matter how strong these feelings were, I never actually thought I would do it. On 1st April, 2001, I came home from church and my sister was staying over. I hadn’t been feeling very much like myself over the last couple of weeks and I had been letting my feelings and circumstances bury me so much that I really felt like I couldn’t keep going on like that anymore and I wanted to end all my hurt and pain. As it was, I didn’t want to go to school the next day because I had just had a fight with a friend who I had every lesson with the next day. I had planned to ‘chuck a sickie’ on the day but this didn’t exactly work as I first planned. When I got home from church, I was feeling rather on edge as things had gotten too overwhelming over the last couple of weeks and I was awfully desperate for a solution. As I have said I had the urge to end my pain and I had recently been talking about committing ‘subtle suicide’, so I decided on an escape root. Although I didn’t feel like it was a very conscious decision I still went ahead with my ‘plan’. That night I took a total of 24 Dymadon tablets, 6 Stemitil tablets, 1 Telfast tablet, and about 20mL of liquid Panadol between 9:00pm and 10:30pm. I got the next day off school like I hoped, but in fact, unknown at the time that was the end of my schooling altogether. I spent a week in hospital then went to live with my mum and dropped out of school.
When I look back at 1st April, 2001 now, I realise that the overdose was not a very good solution as it made me feel even worse than ever before. It made situations worse and I kept feeling worse and worse. After the overdose I realised how many people do actually care about me. In fact, many more people cared about me and love me than I ever imagined. When I overdosed, I hurt so many close friends and family and I never wanted to do that. But, I was hurting incredibly bad inside and did not feel like going through that amount of pain was worth it. However, now I realise that hurting my friends and family like that really wasn’t fair, it is not worth doing and it made me feel even worse. When I look over that period of time, I realise that it was probably the worst time of my life so far, despite all the other pain, suffering and depression that I have experienced.
When I came out of hospital, I was afraid to face the real world. For me, hospital was the most safe and secure place I had ever been and at leaving time, I was feeling very much like staying there, like it was my home. I felt that the outside world had already caused me too much pain and I was not willing to experience it again.
As I mentioned before, my overdose caused more problems within my family. My dad seemed like he was feeling as though he didn’t matter and like all he ever did for me was going to waste. He thought I didn’t want him there and he made it sound like it took him a lot of effort to visit me each day. While he was there, he seemed like he felt very awkward and out of place. This caused me more distress, as I would worry about him. I did not feel like I could return to live with my dad and although my mum stayed with me in hospital, I didn’t feel like I could particularly live with her either. This was very distressing for me as I was feeling very awkward and I was unsure about where I belonged. I could not deal with hurting all my family again as I had already caused enough pain and misunderstanding.
Lying in that hospital bed, the physical pain was least bothering. That week I experienced much emotional pain and struggled while trying to please everyone except me. This was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with. It was hard being restricted to just a hospital bed while trying to do my best to please all of them.
There was one day when I was laying in that hospitals bed when my dad was criticising my mum. And I will never forget that he left me by saying “God help you”. And I layed there, tears rolling down my face, thinking ‘He will, Dad, he will’ and I just wanted to say to my dad “Dad, he will help me” but I withheld from speaking and just let the tears fall. Each night and many times through the day, I cried and I prayed endlessly because I knew that the only one who could help me now was God. That week consisted of a great lack of sleep and there was not one night when I didn’t cry myself to sleep.
I continued to go through a bad time with my dad and each day I felt things were just getting worse and worse. Each day, I felt worse about myself and I constantly thought to myself ‘What is going to happen to me now? What is going to be made of me next?’ Well, I exited the hospital one-week after I was admitted. I went to live with my mum but continued to feel awkward and continued to question where I belonged and what was going to happen.
However, the pain didn’t end when I left the hospital, instead I took it with me. I continued to carry the hurt on my shoulders and I kept allowing it to build up again. Several weeks after I came out of hospital, my feelings almost had me buried again. I was living with my mum and I was still going through a very hard time. I could not sleep at night, so one night I got out of bed and went downstairs to get myself a drink. As I sat on the lounge I went to write an answer to a question which my friend had asked me earlier that night. She said to me “You told me that you have had so much trouble so far, but you still come out on top.” She paused then asked me “ What changed this time?” This really puzzled me, and as I sat on the lounge it began to bother me more and more. What changed this time? As I went to write some ideas down... I began to be bothered by several experiences that had occurred in the past. At this time, I was still suffering very much and I felt like I had advanced to nowhere. I once again started wishing that the overdose was a success and I wished I were dead, and honestly, that night I almost overdosed for a second time. What stopped me? I had the thought of hurting those close to me again and that hurt me more. I felt that hurting them so bad the first time and the thought of having made them cry was painful enough for all of us. I pictured two very special friends in particular and could not stand to put them through that again. So, I decided not to overdose a second time, although I was very close. I still needed help, desperately, but I most certainly did not want to seek the help of another councillor. I wanted Gods help, not councillors. All I wanted was for God to help me, this feeling and desire was so strong that I was not going to give in to anything or anyone except God. That night passed, but I was not feeling any better and this continued for a few more weeks. Each night I prayed for God to be the one to help me, I cried to him constantly, telling him everything I felt and thought. My life continued to feel like a waste, like it was just dragging on but I continued to pray for God to help me. Through all of that, the one to help me through was God. Even though my friends did a really great job of helping me out and supporting me, God was the one to pull me through in the end, he was my strength and my stepping stone, I owe so much to him.
Many weeks passed and I had finally figured out where I was going wrong with God. My friend and I went with youth group to a Youth Alive concert on 30th June, 2001. That night I decided that I had to come back to Jesus. That night, hundreds of people came to Jesus, some for the first time and others who were re-committing. I cannot say that since then I have not questioned my faith, but the few times when I did, I immediately turned to God and prayed. God helped me through it all and now God is fully in control and everything I do is guided by him. I now fully trust in the Lord and my relationship with him is much stronger and much closer.
It has not been my personal problems that have distracted me from God but instead it has been my selfish desires that have prevented me from completely giving my life over to Jesus. I have now learnt that I cannot take anything into my own hands, but that I have to give everything over to Jesus. I have realised that God is not just there to get us out of trouble, but he is there to praise through the good and the bad times and we should thank him for what he has done for us. We should bring all things to God in prayer as he makes all things possible and he never fails to hear us. God answers all of our prayers by providing us with what we need, which is not necessarily what we ask for. Once I put full trust in Jesus, he took away all of my pain. My faith has been strengthened, not only because I re-committed and I learnt from my past, but also because I am now willing to sacrifice anything for God and I now refuse to try or face anything alone. Instead I place everything in Gods hands and I leave it to him.
I have found a reply to my friend’s question “What changed this time?” Well, I can say that the only difference was that it just took me longer to come out on top. This time, in order to come out on top, I needed Jesus. I know I have had Jesus before, but I hadn’t entirely given, not only my life, but everything I am, everything I was, everything I ever want to be and everything I will ever be, over to Jesus. This time, I have given everything to Jesus, he controls every part of me and every area of my life is in his hands. One problem with my first commitment was that I had not placed full trust in the Lord, I still wanted to deal with things myself and if I did place things in Gods hands, I would not let go of them. It took quite some time to figure out that this was causing problems in my spiritual life. When I re-committed, I was prepared to make a difference and I am willing to give up anything for God, do anything he asks and my hearts desire is to be who God wants me to be!
There were four things that my heart strongly desired and God gave me each one of them. First of all, I wanted God, then I wanted to keep him, I wanted God to give me inner peace and I just wanted to be me. Now, I have got God, I am keeping him, he has given me the inner peace I desired and I have the ability to be who I am. At present, my hearts one desire is to be who God wants me to be and that is one goal which I will live by for the rest of my life. Lord, may your will be done!
Out of all this I have become a much stronger person, spiritually and emotionally. I now consider myself to be a very dedicated and committed Christian and I now take commitments more seriously.
I now hope I reach my adult years. By this, I mean, I hope God gives me the chance to live my adult years. God may come back any day and I may never get the chance to enjoy any of my adulthood but I hope he gives me that chance. Not so long ago, I did not want my life. I did not even want to reach seventeen never mind becoming an adult. But, if I become an adult, I will look at the present as it will be then and I will look at the past, which will be now and before. I am certain that when I do this I will be glad that I am still living just as I am glad now. Hopefully I will look back over the past and still have as positive a view as I do now.
There is one thing I have learnt and want to remember for the rest of my life: life is a gift, a very precious gift that God himself has given us. To sum it all up in three words I would like to say that “Life is precious” and it took me so much to believe it and at first, it was hard for me to say and even harder for me to admit. But, thanks to a very special friend, I now know just how precious life really is. However, God did not only give us life, he also gave us everything within and I am also very thankful for this because God has given it all to me for a reason. Although I do not know what the exact reason is, I know God also gave it all to me because of how much he cares for me. God has given me life and God has given me life so that I may enjoy it but I was not able to do this until I gave my life to Jesus. Jesus has not only shown me how to live but he taught me to love my life and enjoy it. Now I am also able to share my past and present with other with hope that they can see that the best way of life is God’s way of life.
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As you say "Life is precious" and the Father thinks you are precious. Hold on to the truth of His love for you never ends. Thank you for sharing. - Jay Cookingham